Networking and Your Business

The other night one of the networking groups I attend turned out to be unusually intimate and we had an opportunity to have a very good discussion about networking groups, how they differ, and networking in general.

Networking is considered to be one of the most essential ways to generate new business. In spite of this I often hear people say they don’t like to go to networking events, even saying they are afraid to because it means talking to a lot of strangers. (This brings up an important thing to ask your self— If you aren’t comfortable meeting new people, then how are you going to bring in new clients?)

Something that might help with this is to look at the different ways they are set up. The ones I attend range from one called “The Schmooze” which I describe as “a cocktail party on networking steroids.” It is so massive that many first-timers are immediately overwhelmed, but once you figure out a strategy it can become fun (best to arrive early before the alcohol kicks in too much though!). On the other end of the spectrum are small groups that meet for lunch once a month to talk and build up relationships. Some are set up as leads groups you have to pay to join and are expected to supply a quota of referrals to other group members. Different times of day, philosophies, industry focus, personalities – you just need to take a little time to find the right fit.

Think of it this way—a stranger is a friend you just haven’t gotten to know yet, and they might turn out to be your best client!

Where did your Google Places page go?

(and why Local = Social now)
If you have a business with a local consumer base you are probably already concerned with local search—and if you’re not, then you should be! Up until the last few months Google Places business pages were one of the “must haves” for local search. The Google started to quietly phase them out and the familiar reviews with the yellow stars started getting harder to find.

Enter Google+ business Local pages.

Now a business concerned with local search must:
1. Have a Gmail account
2. Get a Google+ account
3. Build a Google+ business Page (like Facebook)
4. Then you can get back to the business of generating good reviews—but they will look different.

Last fall Google bought Zagat, the restaurant review company viagra en vente libre. They have decided to use Zagat’s 30-point rating system for all businesses. In addition to restaurants they are now phasing in ratings for everything from car mechanics to gyms, detests to hair stylists.

In other words, local search now requires businesses to get social!

To your business success!

Have you maintained your WordPress site?

This week a client presented me with an object lesson in why it is important to keep your WordPress website updated.

Her site was built over three years ago. Up until last week it had a single post in her blog page announcing the new website, never a good sign. Since being built it has only been updated 2-3 times, and the last time well over six months ago. She has been resistant to monthly service but can never remember how to even log in for herself.

After she referred a new client to me I offered to give her a complimentary half hour to update the site and hide the neglected blog page. I was greeted by a website that was on the verge of self-destructing.

Research revealed that her theme is no longer being maintained by the designers and, between that and a few other potentially obsolete plugins, the whole website is on the way to being incompatible with the current version of WordPress. This created a perfect storm where I was unable to even access the Admin panel. I was able to save it by doing some surgery on it at the server level, but this will be a temporary fix. She is looking at some major work that could have been avoided or, at the very least, have been scheduled at a more convenient time. WordPress is constantly changing, requiring themes and plugins to keep in step. Regular maintenance by you or someone else is your best insurance!

In Appreciation of Clients

My business is at a point where I am appreciating how each client teaches me something new, or reminds me of something I had pushed to the back of my brain.

In the last few weeks two of my clients reminded me how important it is that we like what we do. After all, the point of having our own business is to be doing something we enjoy and believe in. Otherwise, we are just creating another J.O.B.— with quite possible longer hours and fewer benefits.

Something that is important to keep in mind is the importance of maintaining flexibility. You may have it in your head that something should be done in a specific way. If this doesn’t work with that particular client’s processing style, holding firm could make for a rocky project. If, on the other hand, you adjust your approach to something more accessible to the client you have the opportunity to have the dual wins of thrilling the client and adding to your own offerings for the future.

Having clients we like, and where we can mutually enjoy the process of working together and learning from one another is a blessing. It is also a great way to receive validation that you are on the right track with your business.

The Neglected Blog of a Changing Business!

…and so it is that many months later I return to the blog, totally guilty of not practicing what I preach! Since the last post I have learned so many things about running a business that they never tell you. A business coach quote worth repeating: “Starting a business is like going for an advanced degree in self improvement.” Amen. I will probably blog about part of that later because many of those I serve are dealing with the same start-up obstacle course. The planned tip series is still in the works, and is destined to appear both here and as the basis of a resource guide.

Those who have commented (& not been published) about link services can stop promoting. In spite of the fact that it would help with my marketing, I have intentionally held off on optimizing and building links to this site because the whole business is changing and I needed to wait until I knew what it was going to look like on the other side. Now I can say that Findable Design will continue, but as a subdivision of sorts of a larger entity, and serving as the educational division, also specializing in devoting some extra TLC to alternative healthcare practitioners and creatives.

Future posts should start coming at shorter intervals now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to serving as a translator of sorts to help small business owners feel a bit less overwhelmed about the jungle that is known as internet marketing.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Web Clarity

Practicing What I Preach — About My New Business

Greetings and thank you for stopping by. This marks the formal soft launch of my new business. This website will undoubtedly change as as time allows and the business grows. As any new business owner knows, the ‘to do’ list for a start-up is long, and it all wants to be done at once. My challenge is to do everything I know that needs to be done in a timely fashion, setting a good example for current and future clients.

Over time this blog will share tips, resources and new discoveries related to all things web — planning, branding, design, search engine optimization, WordPress, social networking… the length and complexity of the list should be explanation enough for why you are feeling overwhelmed if you have chosen to do your own website when your business is something entirely different. Anything that might help to reveal the “wizard behind the curtain” for solopreneurs and small businesses is fair game as a topic. I have a number of things in mind, but please feel free to request a topic and I will gladly address it.

Your website should be the star of your internet marketing strategy. It should also function like a trusted partner, doing it’s share to generate business contributing to the success of your business. Here’s to a successful New Year!

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